Conventional wisdom dictates that there’s a standard progression of web hosting products as your site increases in traffic:
Shared Hosting -> VPS Hosting -> Dedicated/Cloud Hosting
The leap from shared to VPS hosting is the largest, because it requires an entirely different skill set. But wait. Is it really necessary? What if you don’t want the hassle of learning new technologies and skills, and want to concentrate on your business instead? In recent years with the advent of cloud hosting, many companies like SiteGround have eschewed traditional VPS hosting. Instead, they focus on ease of use. Basically, providing the power of a VPS without the hassle.
In this article, we will evaluate three ways you can obtain the functionality of a VPS without actually buying a VPS.
SiteGround GoGeek Instead of VPS
The first example is SiteGround – the only major hosting provider that doesn’t explicitly have a VPS plan. Instead of that, they offer their GoGeek tier of shared hosting that provides much of the same power. Here’s a great explanation on WP-Tweaks about how GoGeek is SiteGround’s VPS alternative.
SiteGround themselves call it their “semi-dedicated” option. Instead of a traditional VPS server where you need to manage your software and security, the SiteGround GoGeek plan merely expands the capability of shared hosting with liberal limits, complete site isolation, and a bevy of useful features.
But hang on – isn’t the whole point of a VPS to get dedicated resources all to yourself without sharing them without anyone? If GoGeek is nothing but shared hosting, doesn’t it defeat the purpose of a “VPS”?
With any other hosting provider, yes. SiteGround however, has a unique “Hive” technology stack that provides VPS like segregation between accounts on the same machine. In fact, even their StartUp and GrowBig plans use Hive, making it the most “VPS like” of all shared hosting services.
So if you need the power of a VPS, but want all the convenience, cPanel facilities and a smooth upgrade path of shared hosting, the SiteGround GoGeek plan is your first stop.
Managed VPS Hosting
The second alternative is managed VPS hosting, where the web host takes care of the hard work of maintaining the server, so you can focus on your business. These services include:
1. Server OS and software updates
2. Security patches
3. Configuration and optimization
4. Control panel installation like cPanel or Plesk
5. Firewall management, DDoS monitoring, etc.
Normally if you had to perform all these functions on your own, it would be a nightmare for someone who’s not technically qualified. In fact, you’d probably need to hire someone to do all this for you. And even then you’d have problems.
So much so, that I would only recommend a managed VPS service for any business. Unless you have the time and inclination to mess around with configuration files for hours, you simply don’t want a raw VPS solution. You have better things to do with your time.
Not all hosting providers offer managed VPS services – only some. Hostgator for example, has a nice suite of managed VPS services. It’s worth noting that the cheapest plan is comparable to SiteGround’s GoGeek plan – further reinforcing the power of SiteGround’s advanced shared hosting.
In recent years, “VPS” hosting and cloud hosting have merged somewhat. In certain situations, providers like Hostgator have de-emphasized cloud hosting altogether. Going in the opposite direction, SiteGround has positioned cloud hosting as the upgrade from its GoGeek plan.
Basically, the SiteGround hosting progression goes something like this:
Shared hosting -> Low-level VPS (GoGeek) -> Cloud hosting (advanced VPS) -> Dedicated servers
The reason why there’s so much confusion, is that cloud hosting can provide you with dedicated resources just like a VPS can. Except that it’s not a single underlying machine, and your data could be spread across many servers. Implementing this properly isn’t easy, and this is reflected in the high prices of SiteGround’s cloud packages.
Cloud hosting however, is almost always functionally the same as managed VPS hosting. The provider takes care of the nitty-gritty details for you, and you just need to focus on running your business.
Unmanaged VPS Hosting
Finally, we have VPS hosting that is completely your responsibility. The host will provide you with the machine and the IP address. The rest is up to you. There’s no limit to how involved you can get, right up to creating and maintaining your own DNS servers.
It can be extremely cheap as well. For example, you can get started with an unmanaged VPS from A2 Hosting for just 5 bucks a month. That sounds like a good deal, until you realize the amount of work that comes along with it. You know the saying – with great power comes great responsibility. And when you have root access, and complete control of your machine, you’re responsible for everything.
As we’ve seen in our article on the different types of hosting options, there’s supposed to be a “default” progression of hosting. But a lot of businesses simply don’t have the manpower, or the technical competence to run an unmanaged VPS. And that’s why I would never suggest that they go down this route. Instead, I would urge them to choose something like SiteGround GoGeek plan. Or at least get a managed VPS plan or opt for cloud hosting instead.
Image Credits: vpn from Wright Studio/Shutterstock